Wednesday 20 June 2007

Mr Hall (Chair)
Mr Harriss
Mr Martin
Mr Wilkinson
Ms Forrest


Hon. David Bartlett , Minister for Education

(Department of Education)

CHAIR – Mr Finch, did you have a question about schools coming together?


Mr FINCH - Yes, I do have a question that touches a little bit on amalgamation. I think, minister, you alluded to it a little bit with the member for Windermere that I wanted to touch on. I am not jumping ahead to the Cabinet investment program, but there is a $5 million allocation there by State and Federal Governments to combine. There was a northern committee that was formed by the education department to make a decision on the future position of schooling in the northern suburbs of Launceston. I'm curious about whether that decision has been made, and I am talking particularly about the Rocherlea Primary School.

Mr BARTLETT - Seeing as you asked the question I can't avoid the answer, and I don't want to unnecessarily praise up members of this committee, but I do want to pay particular attention to the Mayor of Launceston, the member for Windermere, who has been a part of a committee that has been working on the exact question you ask, together with Frank Nott, an alderman and senior teacher, Andrew Finch from my own department, Sharon Wyatt and Mark Chalasseur from the P & F of Brooks High School, Malcolm Hales is the acting principal of Rocherlea Primary School, Leanne Newson from the P & F of Rocherlea primary, Peter Trennett from the P & F of Rocherlea primary, Heather Fahey, the principal of Mayfield Primary School and also Liz Banks, the new general manager of our learning services up there in Launceston.

They have been considering the extra funding, as you say, that was allocated for northern suburbs, schools in Launceston. They were asked to make recommendations about the use of the remaining $2.4 million from the $6 million that was committed to the northern suburbs school provision project in 2005-06. I think this is a really good example where the community has owned an issue, considered all the options, consulted widely and made a recommendation to me about the future of school facilities, in this case, Rocherlea. Essentially, what they have recommended to me, the northern suburbs consultative committee, the third option was to move Rocherlea primary to the Brooks High site, and they have all signed that recommendation to me, and I have accepted that recommendation.

This will mean that, as a result of the relocation and the subsequent availability of the asset sales at the old Rocherlea primary, $3.5 million is now available to spend on providing state-of-the-art school facilities for Rocherlea students on the Brooks high campus. There has been extensive community consultation, and I do expect - and it is related to a question previously - that Rocherlea primary will retain its own identity and be Rocherlea Primary School on this new facility. The consultation process will continue with the Brooks High School community regarding the next phase of the project. We need to obviously look at issues around the project, such as around the new site, including fencing, traffic flow, library provision, parking arrangements, but, also, state-of-the-art technology facilities that Rocherlea students will now be able to access.

I do think this is a great example of exactly what we have just been talking about. This money is not coming out of the $5.67 million. This is over and above, but it is a great example of where I put clearly on the record at the beginning that I was not forcing anything upon Rocherlea. I wanted the leaders in the community, together with the people who are actually in these schools, talking about and understanding what their future might entail. I believe they have chosen a really bright future for the students of Rocherlea, a fantastic future, where those kids, many of whom walking into the school will be walking into the best building they have ever walked into in their lives and will see the value that education can have and that we place on education for them, therefore, the value that education should have in their lives.

It is through community leadership - I will embarrass the member for Windermere - that allows this stuff to happen. It is great example for the School Futures Fund going forward because that is the sort of community leadership that we need out there from members of Parliament, from local government, from others in the community, to say we can be part of the solution here, and not only be part of the solution but we can do better for the kids that in our areas by looking innovatively at these sorts of solutions. That is an announcement today. I am sure the Mayor of Launceston and member for Windermere will be very pleased to talk to the media about it afterwards.

Mr FINCH - Can you just tell me, please, when does the work start? When will the students be moving into Rocherlea Primary School at the Brooks High School site?

Mr ANDREW FINCH - What is important in this project, as the minister foreshadowed, is the consultation process of the communities and that Brooks and Rocherlea get the best possible outcome with the funds that we have. So we will be starting that process shortly now that we're in the new term and following the announcement. I think that will enable us to look towards a tender process towards the end of the year. We will have a competitive tender process, again, to get the best outcome in terms of cost for the building or the construction works. Probably next calendar year would be the build year, the 2008 calendar year. We would look for 2009, probably the commencement of 2009 to be up and running on the site. Obviously there will be a little bit of give and take in that in terms of just how quickly we can go with the tendering processes and the consultation processes.

Mr BARTLETT - Of course, this is in the context of a $92 million, largest ever capital works budget in the history of Tasmanian schools. So I can tell you that Andrew Finch and his financing facilities branch already are and are going to be busier than they have ever been.